Academic Technology Director Jeff Tillinghast and I have co-authored an article for Curriculum In Context, the journal of the Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, an ASCD affiliate. We wrote a practitioner’s view of how our teachers use contemporary computing technologies to provide specific, rapid, and varied feedback to students and then accordingly adjust individual student instruction. Read the article (PDF) or access the full issue. Many thanks to Seattle Pacific University professor David Denton for inviting us to contribute to the journal.
What is the best arrangement of computers to support classroom activities? In our school, it varies considerably by grade level and subject. Once upon a time, laptops seemed destined to replace all computers, but lately we have found desktop computers to be lower cost, more reliable, and quicker to activate, hence the mixed environment in some spaces. Sometimes, fixing a computer to one location is actually a benefit, such as when teaching 22 elementary students in 40-minute blocks, rendering a digital video for hours, or keeping a reliable connection to an inkjet printer.
- 1:1 student laptop program
- arts desktop computers for video rendering and inkjet printing
- computer science desktop computers for Linux applications
- three laptop carts
- desktop computers in arts, English, and World Cultures classrooms and main office
- computer lab for grades 4-5
- two desktop computers per classroom in grades 1-5 + most specialist classrooms
- four laptop computers per classrooms in grades 3-5
Student and parents attend an Upper School laptop orientation.
Fifth grade classroom computer
Lower School computer lab (22 computers)
Middle School laptop cart
During summer laptop maintenance, we touch every teacher and student machine to perform updates, change some configuration settings, and fix hardware issues. As of today, we have 40 Macs out for service out of a total of about 200 machines that have passed through our hands. Far and away the leading category of repair is MacBook computers with cracked plastic cases.
I know our kids are hard on these computers, but they also carry them to school, through five to seven periods, to afternoon activities, and then back home each day. We want the kids to use the computers, after all. This repair rate creates hours of additional work for us and days of delays to the students.
Why oh why won’t a computer manufacturer produce a laptop truly designed for highly mobile, high-use individuals like students?